Security Bytes

May 20 2011   1:14PM GMT

Symantec to acquire Clearwell for its eDiscovery processing platform

Robert Westervelt Robert Westervelt Profile: Robert Westervelt

Acquisition of Clearwell Systems Inc. bolsters Symantec’s eDiscovery capabilities in a crowded market for software that helps contain civil litigation costs.

Symantec Corp. has agreed to acquire privately-held data achiving and backup vendor Clearwell Systems, Inc., in a $390 million deal that launches the security vendor into the eDiscovery market.

The agreement is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approval, and is expected to close in September.

The market for electronic discovery software has been booming as businesses are required to tap into archived emails and other documents during the discovery process in civil litigation cases. Specialized software helps reduce the costs and risks associated with legal discovery.

Storage and database vendors have tapped into the market, including EMC Corp acquired Kazeon Systems Inc. in 2009 for $75 million. It also sells RSA’s Archer platform for eDiscovery and compliance management. Gartner Inc. calculates the annual growth rate for eDiscovery at 14% and estimates that it will reach $1.7 billion by 2014.

Brian W. Hill, an analyst with Forrester Research Inc. said Clearwell and Symantec have had a longstanding partnership across their archiving and eDiscovery offerings. Clearwell has been focused on processing, search and review to support eDiscovery, he wrote in the Forrester Research blog.

Clearwell offerings have some overlap so I anticipate a period of assessment and rationalization. The two vendors, however, have joint partners and some existing product integration and Symantec certainly recognizes the importance of the intersection of archiving and eDisovery.

Symantec, which acquired Veritas in 2004, will add the eDiscovery capabilities as an offering for its customers. The company said it would integrate Clearwell’s capabilities into its Enterprise Vault archiving product.

“As information continues to grow at unprecedented rates, the biggest challenge for customers is to protect, manage and backup this information as well as have the ability to categorize and discover it efficiently,” said Deepak Mohan, senior vice president, Information Management Group, Symantec in a statement.

Symantec said the Clearwell platform can also be integrated and cross-sold along with its NetBackup, Data Loss Prevention and Data Insight software.

Some experts say the market is still immature and includes a myriad of small vendors. Forrester’s Hill said enterprises have had difficulties with the complexity of using different eDiscovery providers with different applications. Clearwell competed against Autonomy Corp., Recommind Inc. and ZyLAB North America LLC. In addition, Informatica, Oracle and SAP offer their own branded eDiscovery software suites.

According to Hill:

Given how long litigation and investigations often take, buyers want to make sure that their provider will be there when it counts. With about 200 employees, Clearwell is bigger than many of its counterparts, but Symantec will clearly be around for the long haul.

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